Waitlisted For Your Top College Choice What’s Next?

Waitlisted For Your Top College Choice

You had hoped the admissions process would be over by now, but you have been waitlisted for your top college choice. What do you do now?

33% of colleges and universities use waitlists. These lists are effectively the colleges’ back up plans. They have a number in mind of how many freshmen they want to admit. The colleges also know that not all students will accept their invitations to join their student bodies. So the waitlists are there to fill the gap.

Approximately 10% of student s who apply to a college with a waitlist will wind up on the list. Out of those 10%, 20% of them will get off the waitlist and get into the college.

So here’s your first lesson about being waitlisted. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you. You only have a 1 in 5 chance of getting off that waitlist. So if you’re serious about and you really want to get into that school, then you better do some work to improve your chances.

1. The student makes all contact with the college.

First things first… Mom and Dad need to stay out of this process. Here’s a bit of trivia for you…

Out of all the communication that a typical admissions office receives:

  • 85% comes from parents of prospective students
  • 10% comes from high school guidance counselors
  • 5% comes from the students themselves

Only 5% of all communication comes from the students! Do you realize that one of the most effective ways for your student to stand out amongst the thousands of applicants is to be one of the very few students who contact the admissions department themselves? This is the first key to getting off the waitlist. The student should be making all the contact with the college.

2. Decide whether or not to pursue the waitlisted school or schools.

This is an important step, and can easily get overlooked, so answer this big question now.  Take stock and determine if you really want to remain on the waitlist. Is the school that much more desirable than their second or third choice which has already admitted them? Do you want to hang on to the chance they would get in? Since most of the financial resources will have long before been allocated and history shows you are not likely to get a generous award.  If lowering the out of pocket cost is important, it’s worth taking a serious look if you should take the money being offered by one of the other schools.

3. What’s your backup plan?

Third… You and your student need to formulate their backup plan. Remember, only 20% of students get off the waitlist. Also keep in mind that most colleges require you to make a yes or no decision by May 1st. There is a very high likelihood that you will not hear anything about getting off the waitlist until July or August. So you must have a backup plan.

Pick one of the other schools you have already been accepted to, hopefully one with a generous financial aid offer, and send in your confirmation and deposits. You need to pursue your backup plan school as if you will be there in the fall. Then if your first choice school comes through and you get off the waitlist; you can let your backup know and change course. Of course, you have to be willing to give up your deposits at the backup school.

Do not pass up this step. You must have a backup plan. Don’t start telling yourself, “well that doesn’t seem fair to my backup school.”

4. Contact the Admissions office

Fourth… You need to contact the admissions office directly (you being the student). Ask them why you were waitlisted. Was there something missing? Were your ACT or SAT scores just a little too low? Were they looking for more leadership? Find out as many details about the admissions decision that you can without being a pest. Find out who the admissions representative is who has your file.

Now send them a letter reiterating your interest in going to their school. List what you like about their school. Is the location, the staff, its history, your experience at a campus visit. You need to present yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and a good fit for their university.

5. Follow up with the College

Fifth… You need to be following up with the college as you are able to provide them with important information which will cast you in a good light and help them make their decisions. Here are some good reasons to contact your admissions rep and update them:

  • Your ACT or SAT score went up measurably
  • Your GPA has improved
  • You have just received a school or community award.

This is not the time to Twitter your admissions counselor to death. They don’t care who you went to prom with. They don’t care that you’re going on a really cool senior trip. And they don’t care that your group won the high school battle of the bands.

You want to provide them relevant information.

6. Don’t Obsess over the Waitlist

If you’ve put together a well thought out admissions plan, you should have several other schools who have already accepted you. You are just as likely to have a great college experience at those schools as you are at your first choice school. So don’t worry about it. Get on with the rest of your Senior year and have some fun!

If you would like a complimentary financial aid evaluation, please contact our office.

Why Student Campus Visits Are An Important Factor In Choosing A College

Student campus visits are a key part in deciding which college or university is a good fit. There is a feeling that a student experiences here. I have been told by many students over the years that they love a campus, or do not love a campus when they first arrive. While a student can find out basically all he or she needs to know about a campus via the Internet, until a student takes a trip to that campus, they will not know the real feel of the campus setting. The feeling once a student arrives is very personal, and it is one all students need to have experienced before deciding which school is right for them.

A campus visit allows the student to experience the trip involved to get to the school, the people who are there, and the actual learning environment on campus. Seeing the dorms and dorm rooms, the library, the career center, the fitness center, the bookstore, tasting the food, walking around the campus. All of these factors are important to understand if a student will actually be happy once he or she is a student there.

If you would like more information on how to take a quality campus tour, please contact our office.

When Students & Parents Don’t Agree On College

In our years of helping thousands of students and parents we see it’s very common they don’t always agree on college should attend. Some reasons include the cost, location, the student has a friend(s) attending a specific college, academic reasons, the student wants to attend a prestigious school that may not be appropriate or benefit them etc.

One of my suggestions is that the parent(s) and the student take a “time out” and agree to discuss the topic again in the near future. But before doing so, I recommend both the parent(s) and the student take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle and at the top on one side write Pros and on the other side Cons and list all that come to mind. In their next discussion it becomes more clear to both sides on how to make the best common sense decision.

If the disagreement is over the cost of a certain college, it is the parent’s responsibility to educate the student on the amount of debt he or she will graduate with. Also, the student should be responsible for some of the cost. I have found that the more the student is involved in paying for their education, the more serious they are to achieve the best in their education.

12 Tips For Parents and Students On Paying Your Way Through College

12 tips parents students paying way college

These are our most basic tips for parents and students on paying your way through college. Every year we consult with many families, single parents and even students who want to make college more affordable. These are the things we believe without fail you need to do to reduce the cost of college.

  1. Students should always walk into the financial aid office the first day they are on campus and ask if there are any “in house” scholarships they can apply for. Many times there are and students are not aware that they exist.
  2. Pursue outside scholarships keeping in mind that they should never pay for a scholarship service.
  3. Set up a 529 plan.
  4. Whenever possible purchase used textbooks and sell them when they are finished with them.  You are never going to use them again.
  5. Utilize work study on campus whenever possible.
  6. Keep credit card debt at a minimum and always pay it down on time.
  7. Choose the right meal plan.
  8. Set up a student checking account. Most of them are free. Keep organized regarding their spending habits.
  9. Get the right cell phone plan.
  10. Utilize alternative transportation.
  11. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board. If the college is close to family or relatives the student should consider living at home which is one of the most economical ways to get an education. If money is short in the beginning, the student should consider a community college. There are now many quality 2 year programs around the US that will allow a student to transfer their credits to a four year school.
  12. Retain a trained expert in the financial aid process. These people can save families thousands of dollars in their 4 year education.

If you wish to consult with one of our fine experts, please contact our office.  Just like a great accountant for 26 years we have been experts in financial aid. We would love to look at your FAFSA and CSS Profile and see if we can help reduce the out of pocket expense even more.

What Is A College Gap Year?

mind the college gap year

Recently the term college gap year has been getting a lot of attention since President Obama’s Daughter’s Malia decided to utilize one with Harvard University. Many colleges are encouraging the delayed entry to give students the opportunity to build upon life and work experiences with a volunteer work program, part-time work, or travel and internships in foreign countries. Students have found that they entered college more mature and focused.

I personally agree have been a proponent for students taking off a year or two before entering college for many reasons. However, student’s need to know the do’s and the don’ts when pursuing a college gap year(s). For more information, please contact our office.

Parents Continue To Be Misled By High School Guidance Counselors

Tired student worried about paying for college

It continues and unfortunately will not stop. Parents are being told the wrong information regarding financial aid topics. I just talked with a new client and she stated that her daughter’s high school counselor informed her that their 2015 taxes need to be completed before they can file the FAFSA and that the deadline for FAFSA for their colleges is June 30th 2016. Not true in both cases.

First of all, parents and or students can file their FAFSA with estimated figures. Second, each college will have their own specific deadline for FAFSA and more importantly the CSS Profile if required. It is true that the Federal deadline for FAFSA is June 30th 2016 for the academic year 2016-17. However, if one goes by that deadline, the student will miss out on good aid and that is what happened to this family. The deadline for three of their colleges was in January.

Two points here. Parents need to realize that the high school guidance counselor is not a trained expert in the financial aid process and it is the parent(s) responsibility to confirm the actual deadline with the college(s) preferably by a phone call. Recently I was informed that a college had an incorrect deadline for FAFSA and the CSS Profile on their website. If you would like appropriate advice in the financial aid process, please contact our office.

Tips For Students On How To Pay For College

Through the years we have seen a number of things students can do to lower their out of pocket cost for their education. First students should always walk into the financial aid office the first day they are on campus and ask if there are any “in house” scholarships they can apply for. Many times there are and students are not aware that they exist.

Other tips include: pursue outside scholarships keeping in mind that they should never pay for a scholarship service. Set up a 529 plan. Whenever possible purchase used textbooks and sell them when they are finished with them. Utilize work study on campus whenever possible. Keep credit card debt at a minimum and always pay it down on time. Choose the right meal plan. Set up a student checking account. Most of them are free. Keep organized regarding their spending habits. Get the right cell phone plan. Utilize alternative transportation. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board.

If possible, retain a trained expert in the financial aid process. These people can save families thousands of dollars in their 4 year education. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

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